by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets were unable to contend with the Tiffin Dragons on Tuesday night, dropping the match in three sets. Momentum swings were few and rarely went to Cedarville’s advantage, as the underwhelming performance was the last one at the Callan Athletic Center for over two weeks.
Cedarville lost 25-18, 25-20, and 25-21 and didn’t lead until the third set.
“We knew we were gonna have to have a solid match, not just physically but mentally,” head coach Greg Smith said. “We struggled in that aspect tonight.”
Senior outside hitter Taylor Wilkerson and sophomore middle hitter Lauren Willow each led the Lady Jackets with 12 kills. Sophomore setter Sierra Schuitema contributed 35 assists and three digs. Freshman outside hitter Sara Beste had seven kills and 10 digs.
Tiffin roared to a hot start, capturing six of the first seven points of the match. Cedarville failed to win consecutive volleys within the first 12 points, and called its first timeout down 9-3.
The Lady Jackets’ front line struggled to find success, as kill attempts came right back at them with blocks being shoved right back into the Cedarville front line. While the Lady Jackets seemed to have an advantage in height, they failed to convert many offensive opportunities.
Cedarville made the set tighter and came back to a 18-14 deficit, but after losing a winding volley and another point after, the Lady Jackets called a timeout. Cedarville was desperate to hold on in the first set, trailing 20-14.
The Lady Jackets proved they could contend to close the set but lost it, 25-18. Cedarville suffered two service errors in the set.
Yet again, Tiffin dominated to begin the second set. The Dragons won six of the first seven points, and the Lady Jackets looked doomed to suffer the same fate as they did in the first set.
Cedarville showed resilience and cut the lead to 6-4, but Tiffin sprinted away thereafter to own a 9-5 lead.
Tiffin suffered an attack error, bringing Cedarville within three at a 14-11 margin. A run of four straight points propelled Cedarville back into the set, but the Lady Jackets were set back to a 17-11 deficit after dropping the next three.
The Lady Jackets were never able to will themselves back into the set and dropped it 25-20. The Lady Jackets never held a lead in the first two sets.
Cedarville paced Tiffin early in the third set for the first time all game, but the Dragons took the first momentum swing to go up 10-6. Cedarville called a timeout and won two of the next three points to jump back into the game.
Tiffin lulled the Lady Jackets out of the set and match in the third to put the game to rest. While Cedarville kept it close and showed signs of life in the third, even causing Tiffin to call a timeout late, the Dragons refused to bend.
Tiffin finished off the Lady Jackets with three straight points to win 25-21.
“The third was better, we were right there with them,” Smith said. “We just weren’t focused the whole time and we have to do a better job competing. We just have to get better at it in order to put ourselves in position to win.”
Cedarville will travel to Indianapolis for the Midwest Region Crossover this weekend. The Lady Jackets are slotted to battle Northern Michigan, William Jewell, and Missouri-St. Louis in the two-day tournament before hitting the road for two more away games after that.
Tim Miller is a junior marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about supplemental insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.